A Peace Poem
You kill people in front of me, I mourn
And people kill you in front of me, I mourn;
You kill people for them, they celebrate
And people kill you for them, they celebrate;
The “I’s “are only few: scattered, tired and shrinking,
The “they’s”are many: united, energetic and expanding.
(Poem and translation by: Nighat Sahiba)
“A barren land you are,” you said, “yielding nothing!”
Oceans welled up in my eyes
The drop that remained concealed, turned into a pearl
And the drop that found vent, turned into a river.
Bearing a torch in my hand I roam in the courtyards,
The smears they gave, adorned me,
This anguish is for me, that pain is for me
And then the flag of truth, too, is for me.
An Eve’s daughter am I, Christ’s mother am I
Born of none I bear forth many a prophet,
Wherever thorns pierce me, flowers grow there
Where I receive gashes, there sprout the verses
Where lances penetrate me, there founts gush out!
This very poor heart-my woeful heart
The very anguished eyes
The very sterile body,
This pain- An elixir
May not change, let it not, I am a lit candle.
Those well wishers who you handover swords, be told:
‘I will survive till doomsday’.
Everyday they will slay me
And everyday they will find alive,
The Sun, there, belong to you,
That river too is your’s;
That sword like fierce wind too is yours!
I am a pine tree-self-rejuvenating
Neither do I grew up in spring nor I wilt in autumn.
I cry, I laugh
I fall, yet I rise up again;
But O’my Lord, I swear of your majesty
I burgeon better than your flowers!
[Translated from the Kashmiri by Prof Shafi Shauq ]
Poem is a child not
To be enrolled in school
And tell it repeat after me:
‘Alif is for Allah’.
If it asks for sweets,
I will give burfi.
Insisting clothes for its doll,
I will handover the garments of paper.
And at times for a moment
Sullenly behind the door;
Will come and sit in my lap.
Poem is not a friend
Who I will ask to meet,
And she will adieu all her business
To offer me the advice
In light of her experiences
When I am beset with some issues,
Who I will express my agony to
And she will assuage it,
With whom I will share my tears,
Who will follow me willingly
When I disclose the discovery
Of a new way before him.
Poem is not a pallid leaf of autumn
That I will collect
and put on fire
To get rid of it;
That I will trample
under my feet;
and in return
for a nanosecond
And snow will lay over it
Does spring ever remember
where the leaves of book have gone to?!
Poem is not a curry
That I will cook
and learning and understanding,
Sweetness and sourness
As per my wish.
After frying and adding flavour to it
Serve it to consumers
In accordance with their tastes.
Poem is not a library
That whenever I wish
I will enter into it,
Pick up the book
Of my whim,
All the shelves and almirahs,
Dust off the books
And card every cranny of it.
Poem is not a beautician
That it will bedeck the ruins
With ways magical
That it will bring back
youthfulness to the old
That will adorn the crude words
by dressing them up
with the garments of prosody.
Poem is not a damsel
That will accept
each of your decree
Poem is not water
That will take the hue
of the vessel you put it in.
Poem is not a mother
That will wait for ages at the threshold,
And will offer you
whatever you wish,
even offer you her vision!
Poem is a brook
cascading down from a mountain;
that doesn’t need any guide
nor awaits anyone to hold the finger!
Poem is life
before the feet of the fateful,
comes and goes
of its own volition.
(Poet: Nighat Sahiba
English translation: Perveiz Ali )
To find out more about Nighat Sahiba, see Times of India article below